Batucada Sound Machine Interview

Friday, January 30th, 2009 | Interviews | 1 Comment
Batucada Sound Machine Interview

We talked size with Batucada Sound Machine…

(Interview with James Hughes, percussionist and band founder)

A 12 piece band doesn’t happen by accident, how was BSM born?
Dude, we are now 12 piece, but were at 15 during the early days!
It all started when I returned from a stint in Cuba and Brazil studying percussion and I got a group of players together at a local club in town. We jammed once a fortnight and mixed brazilian and Cuban rhythms with drum & bass, hiphop grooves etc. The night started getting a reputation and soon a few horn players turned up, and MCs started coming along. Soon followed a bass player, guitarist and pretty soon we had a full band…playing improvised jams. We got booked for a couple of big local festivals and since then its been a mad ride…playing festivals around NZ, Aus and the UK, and resulting in the studio album with Neil Sparkes last year.

Does size matter? Is it important that there are so many of you?

We have developed our sound so that each person has their own role. From the rhythm section to the percussionists, to the traxedos (horn section) to the vocalists etc. Each person is key. Obviously there are logistical issues, but that’s all part of the fun.

Your music has been described as an ADHD Melting Pot of sound – is this deliberate?
Well, not sure who that person was, but we’ll take it as a complement! There are intentionally chaotic moments within some of the tracks, but by and large – its all carefully orchestrated…unless the band leader is having one of his ‘moments’.

How would you describe your music?
I would call it super-samba-afro-funk, with elements of hiphop and pacific soul added for taste….hmmm yeah I like it.

Your live set is said to be ‘explosive’. Was it difficult to translate this kind of energy into your album ‘Rhythm and Rhyme’?
The recording process was a great experience. We enlisted Neil Sparkes to produce (UK, Transglobal Underground) and he came out to NZ to record with us for 3 weeks. We had demo’d all the tunes for him which was great as we really worked on making the tunes album friendly and not the extended mixes we play live. In terms of energy, we captured the vibe really well during final recording, and then tried to enhance that as much as possible in the mixing stage (we were fortunate enough to mix at Avatar Studios in NY).  The engineer at Avatar was a genius and were stoked with the final result. We are discussing releases at the moment in Aus and the UK – so stay tuned!

Was it hard to create ‘one’ sound with such a wide range of talents and backgrounds? How do you avoid ‘too many cooks’?
It’s a process for us, and often song ideas are created by one person and then developed by the rest of the band. There is a core group of 3-4 of us who do most of the song creation – which makes for a consistent approach. Often a song may start as a rhythmical or bass driven groove, and then we’ll add horn and vocal melodies, breaks etc until things materialize into something we agree on. Often it will take a few times playing live for the final arrangement to stick.

As well as there being so many of you, you also enjoy collaborating with other artists – recently Che-Fu – what do outside artists bring to the band?
It was great working with Che on the song ‘Smoke’. He was super professional in the studio and had researched the subject matter of the song (which was loosely about Cuban Santeria etc). He had all the lyrics down and new exactly what BVs he wanted to do…all in all he was in for a couple of hours and done.

Batucada Sound Machine feat. Che-Fu

We have also worked with Kevin Field (jazz pianist on Hechicera) and Lewis McCallum (saxophone guru on Vai Chegar) – both of whom really added great touches to the respective tracks.

You not only perform in English but other languages such as Portuguese. Would you describe yourselves as a ‘Kiwi’ band?
To be honest, were probably not a ‘Kiwi’ band…what is a ‘Kiwi’ band anyway? Define NZ music!? Can I ask questions?
We certainly are from NZ and love being NZers, but take our influences from other parts of the world as most bands do to differing degrees as well.

Where will you be performing over summer?
We have 4 gigs in Aus lined up:
Thurs Feb 12 in Melb @ The East Brunswick Club – w/ The Melodics
Fri Feb 13 in Sydney @ The Factory Theatre w/ Son Veneno
Sat Feb 14 in Canberra @ Carnival in the City
Sun Feb 15 in Perth @ The Becks Music Box, Perth Int Arts Festival

Then back to NZ for summer gigs etc and hopefully hitting the UK mid-year.

What does the future hold? Will you get bigger in 2009?
We wont be growing band numbers that’s for sure!
This year, we are looking to release the album in Aus and also tour the UK and Europe…things are coming together well, and we have interest from a number of festivals over there…
So yeah…gonna be huge!

You can check out more from Batucada Sound Machine at:


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Foreign Beggars – UK stylin

Thursday, December 18th, 2008 | News | No Comments
Foreign Beggars - UK stylin

Your going to check out a gig on a Friday night yeah? so you go to a friends place for a few drinks, spin some records, chill out, and set the mood before arriving at the gig. Well last Friday night the gig was O.G. and MC Switch, TZU, and Illzilla, the freinds house was Kate (whats up Kate), and the record she was spinning  was Foreign Beggars. I’m feeling a little lazy this week after what turned out to be an awesome weekend so to quote directly from their homepage, Foreign Beggars are… “Voted ‘Best Group’ and winners of “Best single” at the Lyric Pad Hip hop awards 2005, Foreign Beggars are a 5 man crew comprising of rappers Orifice Vulgatron and Metropolis, Dj NoNames, Beat Boxer Shlomo and Producer Dag Nabbit. The crew have released a slew of 12″s and Ep’s and really made their mark after independently releasing their critically acclaimed, debut LP ‘Asylum Speakers’.  Foreign Beggars have collaborated and toured with the cream of UK’s Hip Hop movement, with Shlomo appearing on Bjork’s album ‘Medulla’ and NoNames having done cuts for Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz project. With forthcoming projects with Dj Sparo, Dj Vadim, Dudley Perkins, WildChild (Lootpack), OHNO, Dj IQ, Dj Mentat, Scratch Perverts and Euphrates, the crew see no boundaries with diversifying their sound. Foreign Beggars are also renowned for their explosive live performances, which recently saw them tear down Glastonbury, Fabric and Hip Hop Kemp in Prague. They have supported Public Enemy, Roots Manuva, Beatnuts, Masta Ace, Grand Master Flash, Talib Kweli, Wu Tang, Asian Dub Foundation, Last Emperor, Mark Ronson, Ja Rule, Blak Twang and many more.

Foreign Beggars – Frosted Perspeks

I hadn’t heard Foreign Beggars in a long time now so bringing back their party style upbeats and tongue twisting rap style has been most welcome in my headphones and office / bedroom. With a fairly limited contribution to the Hip Hop scene in the last few years (obvious exceptions in Tricky, Roots Manuva, and Floetry), the English accent and subject matter always stays fresh and interesting for me. They manage to have their own slice of life feel about the rap that is backed up by their simple hometown video clips that add that reality based edge they continuously deliver throughout their albums. With the string of collaborations they are working on over the next year also, it’s going to be a trip to see what they come up with next.

Special thanks goes out to Kate, O.G. , MC Switch, TZU, Ilzilla, Foreign Beggars, and Whiskey for a sweet weekend.
You can check out more of Foreign Beggars at:


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Common – new album

Sunday, December 14th, 2008 | News, Reviews | 1 Comment
Common - new album

Common, the artist formerly known as Common Sense, has released his eighth studio album ‘Universal Mind Control’ opening the album with the title track advising, “This is the new [stuff] and it don’t feel the same.” so it will be interesting to see which way he has gone with this album. Produced mostly by Neptunes super producers Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, it’s surprising Common has time to continue to pump albums out at the rate he does with his Hollywood career seeing him in a long line of successful and not so successful films over the last few years.

Common - Universal Mind Control on the Jimmy Kimmel show

Electro beats appear to be the thing this year with Common and some of his friends like Kanye West adding a robotic sound and breakbeat edge to their beats, something that may not go down so well with old school aficionados, but at the same time could open up their appeal to a whole new market of dance music fans. Another massive change in his lyrics stand out too going from an advocate of equality and respect for women to a kind of horny school boy (again much like Kanye). After enjoying Common’s music for so long, usually with a down to earth twist on hip hop rapping about the realities, struggles, and beauty faced by everyday people, it’s hard to adjust to a more glamorous, party boy theme that he seems to have going lately, kinda begging the question also if his transition is for musical exploration or mass appeal.

An artist like Common, who has given so much to the art and culture of hip hop deserves the chance to branch out, and i’m going to listen to ‘Universal Mind Control’ a few times before passing final judgement on it, but there is one thing that he and I can agree on for sure…

“This is the new [stuff] and it don’t feel the same.”

Common feat. Lauryn Hill – Retrospect for Life

You can check out more of Common at:


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Droppin’ Science Fiction

Monday, December 1st, 2008 | News | No Comments
Droppin' Science Fiction

Time for a quick opinion poll: Hands up who likes free stuff? Okay well we know almost everybody does, especially if that free stuff happens to be a brand spanking new hip hop track by The Mighty Underdogs. I just found out about this today through myspace and I thought I would pass on the info to the Very Good massive. It’s a new song called ‘War Walk’ from the boys. Just to recap, The Mighty Underdogs crew is made up of Lateef the Truthspeaker, Headnodic and the legendary Gift of Gab, the smooth-as-silk voice behind Blackalicious.

The new track (which you can go get now) also features the gargantuan talents of Chali 2na (from J5), Raashan Ahmad, Tash (from the Alkaholiks) and Zion. Now I personally don’t think it would be possible for me to hear a Gift of Gab or Charli 2na song I didn’t like, so the combination of the two is almost orgasmic. This track sounds nice and the vocals are bursting out all over the place in the best way possible. It has a positive message, encouraging you to keep on keeping on. I guess they are using war as a metaphor for life and the everyday battles we go through to survive.  If we are going to be successful we have to have the right attitude and so forth. So if this sounds like something you want to hear, then go for it:


Click Here To Download the Track


The song is off the new Album Droppin Science Fiction, which was just released in October.

Walk like a warrior …Yossarian

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Pete Philly and Perquisite – Just another day in the life

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008 | News, VG News | No Comments
Pete Philly and Perquisite - Just another day in the life

Just another day in the life of two of hip hop’s hardest working talents, or month rather since our last update with these guys who have yet again been trapesing around the world performing, collaborating, and just generally testing the limits of the music industry. The Fourth Single from ‘Mystery Repeats’, “Q&A” has just been released in Europe, a testament to the strength of this record, and a banging party trackto break away from the more smooth chilled out melodic tracks released so far (Time Flies, Mystery Repeats, and Empire). Pete Philly and Perquisite have joined forces with one of Europe’s other experimental hip hop group Looptroop at two shows in Malmo, Sweden and Arhus, Denmark with Looptroop to support them in The Netherlands in Enschede, Groningen and Amsterdam… anyone within earshot you definitely go and check that out for what is sure to be a really interesting, energy packed evening.

Collaborations seem to be keeping Pete Philly and Perquisite busy throughout their travels this month playing two concerts with the legendary Guru’s Jazzmatazz in France last week also. In a twist of fate these collab’s may even be feeding each other with two members of New Zealand group Fat Freddy’s Drop in the crowd at one of these events making the link with Pete and Perq. What an awesome collaboration that could present if the two groups could make the time to put in some work together, both with incredible synergies in that they have vocalists who stand aside from the myriads of acts around these days with powerful and yet soft voices, both with innovative producers in Mu and Perquisite who continually surprise with new crossover styles and sneaky sound switches, and both with talented jazz musicians bringing a certain depth to their live shows.  In a Kiwi theme, Pete and Perq were also fortunate enough to hook up with The Black Seeds while in France after narrowly missing each other at various festivals around Europe, another collaboration that would trip me out if we were ever lucky enough to see it come together.

They’ve been nominated for three state awards, sold out several of their recent shows, been invited to the Carribean islands to perform, and all the while working on a new album as they go.

Pete Philly and Perquisite – Time Flies

Just another day in the life huh!

You can check out more of Pete Philly and Perquisite at:


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